One recent morning, I went to our weekly mama-baby group with my wife, Laura, my daughter’s other mother.
group has been meeting since before our babies were born, first in
prenatal yoga, then at a couples’ birthing class, and now weekly, with
our babies. A Nor’easter was heading our way, so schools and businesses
had closed in anticipation of the storm. When we arrived, we were
excited to see that the four other babies had both parents there as
well. One of the other moms exclaimed, "It’s so great to have the dads
here, too!" Then, remembering that our family was different, restated,
"I mean the other parents."
Laura and I are used to being in
this situation. We knew that our friend didn’t mean to insult us, and we
didn’t take offense. But it was a small reminder that our family
doesn’t fit into the mold of "mother, father, child."
In so many
ways, our family is the same as the other families in our group: We
also feel tired after months of interrupted sleep; we have changed
countless dirty diapers; we marvel at each new milestone in our
daughter’s life. And yet we are reminded, as we were that day, that
there are ways in which being one of two moms is different.
of these ways are more tangible than others. In our moms’ group, we
talk about whether or not we want to have another child, and when. I
share our timeline – we will start trying again this spring, when our
daughter is one – but it will not be me who will carry the next child.
This time, Laura wants to be the one to conceive. She, too, wants to
experience pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
us, the decision about whether or not to have another child is both
simpler and more complicated. Two women conceiving a child require an
impressive amount of logistics – it cannot happen by accident – but we
do not have to wait for my body to recover from the strains of being
pregnant, the intensity of childbirth, or the demands of breastfeeding.
fact, if the timing is right, we hope to be able to breastfeed
simultaneously, each of us creating an intimate bond with both of our
children. We envision how both babies could nurse with either one of us:
I could give Laura a break by nursing the new baby in the middle of the
night; she could enhance her relationship to our first child by nursing
her as a toddler.
As my wife stood by my side throughout the
year I tried to get pregnant, the hours of preparatory birthing classes,
the powerful contractions during labor, the discomfort of a clogged
milk duct, she imagined, "Next time, this could be me." Even the most
compassionate husbands are unable to do this.
And so, on days
like that snow day last winter, I think, yes, it’s great to have the
dads here, too, but for me, it’s even better to have another mom.